Bruce Bartlett

Sadly, this sort of smear technique is standard in the liberal playbook. All conservatives are held strictly accountable for every faux pas committed by any conservative, anywhere, any time. It doesn't matter how outrageously one has to take their words out of context, it doesn't matter how profusely they apologize for accidentally misspeaking, it is always part of an ominous pattern in the liberal imagination. Meanwhile, any liberal who does precisely the same thing is simply given a pass.

Thus, when Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) said some kind words about his longtime Senate colleague Strom Thurmond of South Carolina at a retirement party for him in 2002, Lott was excoriated. Liberals insisted that he was making some coded reference to Thurmond's racist presidential race in 1948. This became proof that Lott was also a racist and he was forced to give up his Senate leadership position.

By contrast, when Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) did exactly the same thing, no liberal said a word. In 2004, Dodd rose on the Senate floor to praise his longtime Senate colleague Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia for casting his 17,000th vote. Said Dodd, Byrd was such a great senator that "he would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this nation."

For any other senator, such words would have no special meaning. But, as Dodd well knew, Byrd was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan—indeed, an organizer for the Klan. Thus one could infer that Dodd was suggesting that the wrong side won the Civil War. He meant no such thing, of course, any more than Lott meant anything racist in praising Thurmond, who, like Byrd, long ago renounced his racist past. But Dodd got a pass because he is a Democrat, while Lott was crucified for being a Republican, when there is an exact parallel between the incidents.

Space prohibits listing further examples of the liberal double standard. It will continue, however, as long as conservatives let these slanders slide by without aggressively responding. The sad truth is that a lie that is not challenged each and every time it appears too easily becomes the accepted truth.


Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.

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